By Fatima Gorezi
Tirana Castle is today a strategic destination of the capital, not only to spend some "happy hours" in the company of friends and relatives, but also to be informed and exchanged with each other in a context as social as well as cultural.
Behind the success of this visionary and perspective project lies the commitment and vision not only of the "Toptani" family, but especially of Klodiana Toptani.
Apart from the challenges that the Albanian economy faces today and the problems that have arisen as a result of the global pandemic, it is optimistic when thinking about the future; determined and responsible for the importance of its vision, to bring together the new and the old, tradition and culture.
You are part of one of the families, whose name is closely associated with the history of the capital. How did you feel the weight of the surname? As a responsibility or privilege?
It is definitely a great responsibility, but also a privilege. Keeping an adjective with such deep roots is not easy. They are roots that have left traces in history in many areas and you have to be very dignified in Whatwhatever you do, you have to think very carefully about the steps you will take and you have to know the value of this adjective, the latter belongs to the privilege.
Tirana has had and still has many large families that have laid the foundation stone for many things. I have tried to do that with the Castle of Tirana, with the enterprise and with the new form that this Castle has taken. It is not easy to run an institution of values and models, to orient taste, culture, art. The castle is the home of all Albanians wherever they are. It's a big door, say the tyrants, there is room for everyone.
For more than 2 years, Tirana Castle is a space with several functions; has brought a kind of revival both in the social or commercial context, but has also brought to attention some cultural values of our national identity. When and how was this vision born?
The castle is an institution. Anti-values have hit values. Good models are being found more and more rarely. We are trying to convey this to the people who have loved and supported us endlessly. This has given us the strength to walk, to rise, to rise again, and to continue our journey. This vision is a process. We have been working for many years on this project which has been translated well for us so far. I am not alone and I have not been alone at any point. I have two very strong pillars to lean on, which are my two close collaborators Ari and Igli and I want to thank them from the bottom of my heart. God brought some people to me to fulfill this vision as the Mayor of Tirana, Mr. Erion Veliaj who has made this country smile, take values, take shape. Also Mrs. Mirela Kumbaro and Mrs. Arta Dollani who with dedication have followed the whole process giving our Tirana a great seal from where things took shape in a chain. Also studying Atelier 4 or Ergys Krisiko which today has the Krisiko Gallery in Kala.
The property has returned to its owner and the Albanians are enjoying a beautiful project where it more or less changes the day, gives peace to the Albanians and where the tyrants sealed what is called the 'big tyrannical door'. The Castle project has essentially had the nourishment of the non-pocket soul, the transmission of positive energy, the exchange of values giving and receiving, finding an oasis of tranquility.
A very important point is the positioning of the Castle itself and the road that has given it breath, which connects the side of the Pedestrian with Lana. Here there are stories where the objects that are outside and inside the Castle speak, which gives even more value to this place.
How were the reactions?
Very positive, very good. Definitely there are and there have been different, opposite opinions, but the scales deviate from accepting this project. The castle is full of beautiful, sweet, good people who directly convey messages and considerations to us through social networks. These messages carry weight to our souls and give us the strength to walk and give people a warm place to feel at home.
This area has become a meeting point for the families of Tirana and all of Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia. Tirana is very big now and with this extension we also find it very difficult to meet. Today, you can find them all in one place where this translates into cost over time. If it takes hours to get somewhere from the traffic, with us you have the center, you have everything you need, you have shopping malls nearby, you have hotels, you also have a small town inside this big Tirana that is the Castle.
What is the typology of businesses that are part of the Castle?
The businesses are unique, carefully selected and each is an asset of Tirana Castle.
For the reaction you said was positive? Curiosity arises, how was this received by the old Tirana families? Did you have a preliminary conversation with them?
It has been very well received by tyrannical families. They are glad that a tyrant has taken the property and the wills of the ancients have gone to the place that has filled your soul. Tyrone has a place where they meet and where they feel proud to be Tyrone. We did not have any previous talks, because this project was a very noisy project and it took us a long time. From those families I know I have received only thanks, gratitude and sweet words.
The fact that Toptani is written on the door of the Castle, means that it is for a reason, to show the roots how deep and old they are, because the Toptani family is known to be one of the oldest in Tirana. I would be very happy if any of the old families took the properties, I think that would translate the sweat of the ancients, because we have so many years in court, we have spent youth at the doors of the courts and youth is a thing that does not return, no there are Whatmim. The economy may turn, but youth is a thing that hurts a lot.
Speaking of economics, how has the economy been within this ‘mini-city’ that you have built within the space of the Castle. How was 2019 and how did 2020 start considering the closure due to the pandemic?
To be honest, 2019 started very well, only one moment of fluctuation was the part of the earthquake that was the end of the year, while 2020 was difficult because we have chains, from rent to employee payments . The same thing happens with other Castle businesses. They need to work for the economy to function despite the chain breaking.
Do you have a new strategy to deal with this situation?
The pandemic has provided an economic cost. The biggest problem that shakes us too is that Whatseed will come later. But, we definitely have a recovery strategy. It's very important at the moment, even though rebuilding takes a lot of strength than just starting something new.
Speaking a little about the tourism that you touched on as an issue a while ago, does the Castle have preferential tourists?
Yes foreign tourists usually come in the spring and summer part, which we were looking forward to. We have had trusted clients and many have come from other cities in Albania.
Speaking of the rest of the year, what are the projects that will be present in Tirana Castle?
We had and still have many projects, but we are limited due to the measures to be reduced and not to create crowds. We are forced to find an alternative solution, an exhibition where people can enter in turn, but it is impossible to do the things we wanted to do, because to do a beautiful thing, people have to be together to given that color or to close the panorama, which we can not do because of the masses. We hope and hope that things go well and things go well. 'Porsche' has already arrived, which will be in Kala for 3 months, maybe here the business spirit starts to breathe a little and is revived, but that is difficult of course.
Beyond work, how is Klodiana's routine, how does your day start and end?
My day is very intense and busy where I get up early in the morning, but I can also stay up until 1 or 2 o'clock the next morning. This happens for a reason, because I want to do and touch things myself. When we finished the construction there we thought that most of the work was gone and we would be cheaper, but in fact it all started there, with a much greater momentum than Whatwe had it. (Laughs). My whole day is with meetings, very busy. After I finish the meetings I have to arrange everything so that nothing is missing for the next day and I make a plan of things to continue. Every day is not like the next day. Management is never easy. You have to start from managing yourself, family, society to managing this great thing that apparently may not give the idea of intensity, but in fact it is. I could have chosen to make a bigger building, rent it out and everything would come effortlessly. But I have tried to bring here things that people have not really seen. I have tried to bring value. Tirana has values, large families that have made history, but we also have very good institutions that whenever we have been given the opportunity we have cooperated, as has been the State Archive. The State Archive is a treasure, but you must know how to process that treasure and bring it to the public. The 100th anniversary has been extraordinary where we exhibited up original seals. We gave some information and a value, because people do not know that you can also access the Archive, you can go, ask, search for your roots. In the meantime, we have now turned the Krisiko Gallery into the home of artists, where they can come and exhibit their values.
Here you come for coffee or even for a walk and you see a beautiful thing that you have never seen or even that you will probably never be able to see again for the rest of your life. It is a tedious job, where I pour a lot of energy and ideas, but it is love, I do it with passion. Of all the things I have done in my life this has been the most beautiful thing, I say with full conviction. This is why I do not get tired, but I feel motivated day and night, even at night I have the greatest productivity and ideas. (Laughs).
How would you describe your whole journey, between vicissitudes and clashes, to the vision and concretization of what you had in mind? Is it difficult to be a career woman in Albania?
It's hard because you have to be human first, then female, wife, mother, sister, daughter and very good friend. The higher you get, the greater the cost of falling, both in terms of traction, height, and position. But I have no turning back for anything. It is enough to love what you do and not to violate the laws of God and the state.
The truth is that at the end of this road I am smiling. There are families who are still knocking on the doors of the courts and have received nothing. I see and know many who were young when they started and today are white haired and still wandering through the doors of the courts. My destiny from God, patience, fatigue and perseverance, courage has made me get to where I am. The challenges and vicissitudes have been among the greatest, but I have succeeded with the strength of the great God, who never tired of giving me strength and hearing all my prayers. It has been a very long journey, over twenty-some years and to think I was very young then when I started everything. I'm young again! (Laughs). That is why even in the parenthesis before I said that youth does not come back, the things I wanted to do then I can not do now. I am a mother of two sons, I also tried to keep them close at work, because you can be successful in business, but you can be a failure as a mother. Children are the greatest wealth a man has! Religion says, "You have to give birth to very good children, because you become part of the community if you raise bad children." It has been tiring, but also beautiful, with emotions, and if I had done ten more faculties I would never have learned all these things Whatwhat do you know. In this journey I have known many people, I have made many friends, and by making good friends I have managed to have that wealth of soul as well. Even at the Castle I do not try to inflate and fill the wallet, but the soul. People come and find themselves, from the youngest artists to the people who have made a name and reputation in the city. It was worth everything, even that hard time when we were sitting at low temperatures to build it. This is archeological site and we worked with wings, without big machines. Everything was handmade and we kept the temperature minus degrees with the workers taking care of every detail. Two of my best collaborators, my two arms, left and right have been a support to move forward and get here where we are. Without them, this oasis, this Castle would not have been made. Without love you can never build something beautiful. I am happy that at the end of this road, the Castle has brought a kind of liveliness to the city, it has become a strategic point where, among other things, it conveys values. I love Whatwill the alley stone of my Tyrone where I was born, raised and educated. We owe it to the great-grandmother Tyrone, and we should all make an effort to glorify her name, to protect her, and to keep her upside down.
Moden Nona Tyrone with a modhe heart. I love my Tyrone very much.